Sharp BD-HP21U Blu-ray Player Reviewed

Published On: December 3, 2008
Last Updated on: October 31, 2020
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Sharp BD-HP21U Blu-ray Player Reviewed

Sharp has introduced two new Blu-ray players. Both are Profile 1.1 players, supporting the BonusView picture-in-picture function but lacking network connectivity for BD-Live. The less-expensive BD-HP21U ($300) lacks the RS-232 port and nicer aesthetic you get on the BD-HP50U ($400).

Sharp BD-HP21U Blu-ray Player Reviewed

  • Adrienne Maxwell is the former Managing Editor of, Home Theater Magazine, and Adrienne has also written for Wirecutter, Home Entertainment Magazine,,, and other top specialty audio/video publications. She is an ISF Level II-certified video calibrator who specializes in reviews of flat-panel HDTVs, front video projectors, video screens, video servers, and video source devices, both disc- and streaming-based.

Sharp_Blu-ray.gifThe BD-HP21U ($300) is the follow-up to Sharp's BD-HP20U, a Profile 1.0 player released in 2007. This is a Profile 1.1/BonusView player, which means it contains the necessary audio and video decoders for picture-in-picture content, but it lacks the BD-Live Web functionality you get when you move up to Profile 2.0. We have not performed a hands-on review of the BD-HP21U, but here is an overview of the player's features. In terms of connectivity, this unit covers the basics but lacks some higher-end options. On the video side, you get HDMI 1.3, component video, and composite video outputs (no S-video). Via the HDMI output, you can pass Blu-ray signals in their native 1080p/24 resolution to compatible display devices. On the audio side, the BD-HP21U offers HDMI, optical digital audio (no coaxial), and 2-channel analog audio outputs, but it does not have 7.1-channel analog audio outputs. The player can internally decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, and it can pass these formats in their native bitstream form over HDMI, for your A/V receiver to decode. The player can pass 7.1-channel PCM audio over HDMI.

Additional Resources
Read high end and top performing Blu-ray players from Sharp, Oppo, Samsung, Sony, Sony ES, Denon and many other top brands here. 

The BD-HP21U's disc drive supports Blu-ray, DVD, CD audio, and JPEG playback, but not MP3, WMA, or Divx. Because this is not a Profile 2.0 player, it lacks an Ethernet port for quick firmware updates and BD-Live Web access. There is a back-panel USB port through which you can perform firmware updates.

Sharp has also released a step-up model, the $400 BD-HP50U, which has the same basic features as the HP21U but a slightly higher-end aesthetic with a glossier finish and a powered front door with on-unit controls. More importantly, the BD-HP50U adds RS-232 and IR control ports for integration into an advanced control system, features not found on most players in this price range.

Read Page 2 for The High Points, Low Points and Conclusion


High Points
• The Sharp BD-HP21U supports 1080p/24 output for Blu-ray titles.
• The player can internally decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, and it can pass these formats in bitstream form over HDMI. This gives the BD-HP21U a little more versatility than some entry-level players that lack internal high-resolution audio decoders.
• It can play picture-in-picture bonus content.
• The Quick Start feature can purportedly cue up some Blu-ray discs in as little as 10 seconds.

Low Points
• The BD-HP21U lacks 7.1-channel analog audio outputs, so it's not the best choice for someone who owns an older, non-HDMI A/V receiver.
• It is not a Profile 2.0 player and lacks an Ethernet port.
• It does not support playback of the MP3, WMA, or Divx formats.
• We have seen reports that the Quick Start feature is only effective with some discs, and a disc must already be inserted in the player in order to cue it up in 10 seconds.

Sharp's BD-HP21U Blu-ray player offers a solid assortment of features for a good price. However, given that other big-name Blu-ray manufacturers now offer Profile 2.0 players with even more functionality for the same (or less) money, the BD-HP21U is at a competitive disadvantage in the mainstream marketplace. 

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